A Milestone in the Making: Launching Crono’s New Platform

Building a startup from an idea can be an exciting adventure that tests resilience, passion, and commitment. It’s about creating something entirely new and adopting the right mindset to turn it into a successful reality.

With “Becoming Crono” we’ll revisit our starting point through an honest and captivating memoir written by our CTO, Marco Maddiona

Each month, you’ll have the opportunity to witness firsthand the steps that propelled Crono into a startup with a €500,000 pre-seed investment. This will encompass the obstacles we overcame and the choices we made. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to develop software while building a business? 

If you are already on board then, enjoy our new episode of Becoming Crono!

Episode 7 – Launching Crono’s New Platform

Hi Croners, I’m Marco Maddiona, CTO & Co-Founder of Crono, welcome to the seventh episode! In case you have missed the previous ones head here to read the very start of our adventure. Now, let’s dive right into our story!

A new software release

In early September, after several months of dedicated work on the new platform version, we were nearly ready to release the software into the production environment. While some modules were still missing according to our initial roadmap, and the new browser extension was not yet complete, we decided to move forward.

As a startup embracing a lean approach, we chose to release the new version to our clients despite these gaps. Our goal was to start receiving user feedback while we completed the remaining development.

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The new version immediately received positive feedback, but naturally, we also began to encounter bug reports and feature requests. Managing these client requests while still completing the planned features was challenging.

The enthusiasm of our users, the increase in their requests, and the rise in usage metrics fueled our determination to continue pushing forward. September was intense, but we felt we were on the right track. We worked tirelessly on the new product version and, before October, successfully released all planned features, including the Chrome extension.

Active users June 2023- October 2023 (powered by june.so)

Reflecting on that period as the CTO, I can now see it as a significant achievement for Crono in various aspects:

  • Team: We built a highly functional team from scratch, with clearly defined roles and excellent team chemistry. We took some risks, such as assigning Bob, a student intern, the task of redesigning the platform’s front-end. With support from Manuel, he delivered outstanding results.
  • Product: The product is attractive, fresh, and functional (despite a few bugs). The new UX-UI is modern and intuitive, standing out from our competitors. Credit goes to the Marco-Vlada duo. Betting on a young, talented, and eager individual like Vlada was a risk that paid off.
  • Scalability: A significant part of our summer efforts focused on ensuring the platform could handle an increasing number of users. Synchronisation with CRMs is a feature users take for granted but requires substantial work to function seamlessly. It’s one of those features that users only notice when it doesn’t work, so we’ve dedicated considerable attention to it from day one.

As a CTO and developer, I invested substantial resources to ensure the software development process was highly efficient, and supported by the entire team. This process is complex to build and improves iteratively, much like the software itself. It’s crucial to focus on both planning and execution, acting as a facilitator for all team members and earning their trust through hard work and organisation. Most importantly, it’s about guiding the team, making daily adjustments to stay on track, and leading from the front, ready to navigate uncharted waters when necessary.

Marketing and Sales Expansion

Developing software is just one part of the equation to build a successful startup. We also needed to promote and sell it. After the intense focus on product development, we needed to catch up on marketing and sales. We decided to expand our team in these areas, investing heavily in young talent:

  • Sofia: A university student from Brescia, passionate about advertising and copywriting with some experience in digital marketing.

  • Loris: Originally from Veneto but now in London, he has a passion for sales and a strong work ethic.

  • Dante: From Florence, an economics student born to sell anything, even to the unwilling.

We focused on enhancing communication through our LinkedIn page and website. With Alex’s experience and networking and Sofia’s passion and ideas, we created a fresh, engaging identity, establishing ourselves as one of Italy’s coolest emerging startups. Our Crono Blog is an excellent resource for those interested in B2B sales, filled with articles written in collaboration with numerous industry experts.

Simultaneously, Alex and Lorenzo started structuring the sales team and process following the new product version’s launch. Although interest from potential clients increased, converting leads and closing deals was challenging due to our limited high-profile clients. We targeted other advanced startups with structured sales departments and a propensity for risk, willing to trust a young, rapidly evolving software.

The joint efforts of the marketing and sales teams began to bear fruit. Between October and November, we started acquiring new mid-sized clients aligned with our buyer persona.

As the number of clients grew, so did the startup’s enthusiasm. Increasing sales was necessary to sustain our momentum and essential for securing the next investment round. The pre-seed round closed in spring 2023 helped us build the team and develop the product, but achieving the next round required meeting high expectations.

WebSummit 2023: A Game-Changing Event

By November, it was time for the WebSummit in Lisbon. As in the previous year, all four founders attended to fully experience the event and align our objectives and strategy. The WebSummit is a fantastic opportunity to connect, learn about new trends and technologies, and seek clients and investors. This year, our primary goal was to find as many clients as possible.

Although we were interested in potential investors, we knew our current numbers were not sufficient to start fundraising for the seed round. We focused most of our resources on generating leads and showcasing our solution. The Italian delegation included several other startups, providing a chance to connect, share opinions, and exchange feedback.

Founders Crono @ WebSummit 2023

We received numerous compliments on our product from peers, especially regarding the quality and quantity of work accomplished in such a short time. Returning to the WebSummit after a year highlighted our evolution from an MVP with a rough interface to a young product with numerous features and tremendous potential. This achievement allowed us to reach our primary goal of the week: attracting many companies interested in trying our software and significantly boosting our brand and network.

We used this period to analyse customer feedback and continuously improve our solution. Additionally, during the WebSummit week, we discussed Crono’s next goals in terms of product development, vision, and strategy.

As a CTO, the greatest satisfaction was knowing that while the founders focused on maximising the event’s potential, the rest of the team continued progressing smoothly, supporting Crono’s growth. This too, is a significant achievement.

That’s all for now, stay tuned because this column will be back in a few weeks with more updates!

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